On November 16, 1985, Florida police discovered the body of Anita Spearman, she had been bludgeoned to death in her home.  It was a brutal and seemingly motiveless crime.  This murder would eventually lead the detectives to Richard “Doc” Savage and uncover a nationwide conspiracy of paid assassination, bombings and intimidation.



When the police pulled Sean Trevor Doutre over for a traffic violation, they found a 9mm Uzi with 52 rounds of ammunition and a .45-caliber pistol with a silencer along with $6,080.00 in cash and expensive jewelry.  They hauled Doutre in for questioning.

Under intense interrogation Doutre admitted that he worked for a man named Richard “Doc” Savage, the head of an interstate murder-for-hire crew.  Doutre said he met Savage through an ad he answered in a magazine for professional adventurers and thrill-seekers called “Soldier Of Fortune.”  Savage also used the same magazine to advertise the services of his contract killers.

Doutre said that Savage had dispatched him to Texas, Georgia and Kentucky to fulfill murder contracts.  Savage had recently ordered Doutre to kill his wife Linda because he felt she knew too much about his murder-for-hire operation.  Savage had also sent Doutre to Florida to pick up drugs and he was putting a plan together to hijack a gold shipment in Alaska.

Savage was currently under investigation for the Anita Spearman murder in Florida but this didn’t seem to bother him, he continued booking contracts.

The detectives were stunned, they didn’t know whether to believe Doutre or not.  Nevertheless, facts were missing in his story and he was careful not to incriminate himself.   He was released on $10,000 bail.

Richard “Doc” Savage had a background in law enforcement, the military and corrections.  His spare time was spent browsing the classifieds in his favorite magazine, “Soldier Of Fortune.”  The magazine was launched in 1975. It was designed for Vietnam War veterans and law enforcement officers.  The magazine was distributed worldwide and was available everywhere.

The classifieds were very popular, some of the ads read: “Married man looking for an expert in poisons to kill his wife.” “World Security Group: Ex-Marines, Nam Vets, weapons specialists, jungle warfare, political high-risk assignments in U.S. or overseas.” “Gun For Hire: Nam sniper, instructor, SWAT, pistol, rifle.  All jobs considered. Privacy guaranteed.”  Male/Female assassin tag teams also advertised as well as women with military backgrounds.

One issue offered $10,000 dollars in gold for the capture of Idi Amin.  The magazine also offered $1 million dollars to anyone who could capture a Soviet M-24 helicopter gunship and deliver it from Nicaragua.  The magazine attracted men who liked adventure, guns, knives and martial arts.

Savage decided to place an ad in the 10th anniversary issue.  The ad read, “Gun For Hire: 37 year old professional mercenary desires jobs. Vietnam veteran.  Bodyguard and courier with special skills; all jobs considered.”  The ad also gave telephone numbers for business and home.

The phone rung off the hook, most of the calls were from husbands looking for someone to murder their wives.   One man wanted his wife killed because she didn’t look the same in a bathing suit.  Most of those who didn’t want to hire a killer contacted Savage to become hit men.  Savage decided to delegate the jobs. He would coordinate the negotiating and planning.  Savage quoted a price of $20,000 per hit.

Richard F. Braun was marked for death.  A crew was dispatched and a bomb was planted under his car but it exploded before Braun climbed inside the car.  The crew would kill him at a later date.

Savage lined up other jobs for his crew.  The crew was hired to burn down a chicken farm, a few days later, a smoke bomb burned down the farm.

A few months later, a camouflaged and masked man stepped from behind a tree and fired several shots into an intended victim, killing him instantly.

Robert Black hired Savage to kill his wife to collect on her life insurance policy.  Kay Black returned home from shopping and was ambushed by a killer who shot her execution style, killing her.

A Texas man, Albert Lee Thielman hired Savage to murder his wife and children for their life insurance money.   A bomb was made. Thielman booked a surprise flight for his wife and children and placed the bomb in her luggage.  During this time, before 911, airline security was lax.

The bomb didn’t go off, instead, a thin wisp of smoke clung to the underside of the aircraft and passengers reported hearing a popping sound.

The bomb attempt got the FBI involved.  They began an investigation on the movements of Albert Lee Thielman, they searched the family home and his office.

Under intense pressure, Thielman confessed and gave the authorities Savage’s name.  The FBI began to close in on the Savage gang.

Savage and his crew were arrested and charged with murder in several states, along with arson, explosives and intimidation.
Richard “Doc” Savage was tried and convicted.  He was sentenced to a total of 40 years in federal prison after completing the 25-year prison term he was currently serving in Arkansas and the 40-year term he still faced in Florida.

Members of Savage’s crew received 25-40 year sentences.

Robert Spearman was convicted of conspiracy in the murder of his wife Anita Spearman, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Albert Lee Thielman was sentenced to death for trying to blow up his wife and children on an airplane.

By early 1986, “Soldier Of Fortune” magazine was out of the business of accepting the type of classified ads used by Savage.
The survivors of the victims sued the magazine.

Kay Black’s family was awarded $7.5 million in punitive damages and compensatory payments of $1.5 million.  The sons of murder victim Richard Braun were awarded $12.4 million.

Source: “Gun For Hire: The Soldier Of Fortune Killings” by Clifford L. Linedecker



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